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Plant now for a colourful spring

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Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Wednesday, 23rd September 2020, 09:00

October sees the inexorable shift of autumn towards winter. The clocks go back at the end of the month and the light levels drop considerably. I personally love this time of year, but I have a log burner and can’t wait for some cold weather so I can cosy up in front of it!

You should finish planting your spring bulbs this month with the exception of Tulips, which fare better if planted late October or even November to limit their exposure to soil-borne diseases.

Amaryllis will bloom from January to May

If you plant Amaryllis bulbs at intervals between October and January it is possible to get them blooming from January to May. They need to be kept inside. Pot newly bought bulbs in 10-15cm pots depending on the bulb size, making sure that two-thirds of the bulb is poking out above the surface of the compost. Water well and leave.

Check the compost does not dry out completely before growth appears, but don’t water too much or they will rot. Start to water regularly when the leaves start to grow. Put the plants in a sunny position at a temperature of 15-18°C and the flowering stems should appear in a few weeks.

Why not plant some Cyclamen hederifolium, which should be in flower now. Plant somewhere with shelter from the sun and wind, digging in some leaf-mould if you have some – under the shelter of trees is ideal.

By planting now, when they are living plants you can see what you are buying and they will establish quickly. The dainty wired stems with lovely pink flowers really brighten up a shady spot, and the leaves form a silver and green carpet later on.

Prepare the ground for new fruit trees

October is a good time to prepare the ground for new fruit trees and bushes. If planting on heavy soil, add plenty of grit to ensure drainage is adequate. Work in plenty of well-rotted manure into each planting position and add a handful of slow release fertiliser when you plant the new trees.

Fruit trees are really becoming popular as they take little looking after (unlike vegetables) and can provide enough fruit to fill the freezer to use all year round.

Orange wallflowers look brilliant with dark tulips

Now is the time to plant wallflowers, which will give foliage all winter and flower in the spring next year. You see the bundles of wallflowers in greengrocers and garden centres – choose fresh ones and plant out immediately. Orange wallflowers look brilliant with dark tulips like ‘Queen of Night ‘ or ‘Havran’.

When the rhubarb leaves and stalks have all died down, remove them and expose the crown to any frost that comes over winter. Rhubarb really needs a good frost, which is why the famous ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ is in Yorkshire!

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